Nightclubbers, take a stand against violence
Let knuckleheads know hip-hop clubs are for partying, not mayhem
By TONYA JAMESON
Charlotte nightclubbers, it's time to take a stand.
Since 1999, at least one person a year has been killed partying inside or leaving a Charlotte nightclub. Emma Yolanda Blakeney, 22, gunned down after leaving Champ's last month, became the latest victim in the senseless violence surrounding Charlotte's hip-hop clubs.
Of course, other clubs have problems with stabbings, drugs, sexual assault and occasional shootings. The Rendezvous Club on Tryon Street, popular with Asian gangs, lost its liquor license in 1999 after a brawl left one man shot, four stabbed and one beaten with a baseball bat. LaJoy, a restaurant and bar that attracted a diverse crowd, on Albemarle Road closed in 1999 after a parking lot shootout, involving a security guard, left three men shot.
Club violence makes dress codes and invasive pat-downs welcome inconveniences.
"It's Russian roulette anytime you walk into any party," said B.J. Murphy, a host of Power 98's "Breakfast Brothers Morning Show." "It's not like a fun party atmosphere anymore. Why do people even go out?"
Murphy recently invited Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Sgt. Eddie Levins on the air to discuss club violence. Along with his radio appearance, Levins is working with the station to help make its parties safer.
Power 98 and the new hip-hop station Hot 92.7 sponsor events and run ads for parties. They have the best chance of reaching the young troublemakers who mistake nightclubs for shooting ranges.
Before Blakeney was killed in a drive-by shooting following a dispute at Champ's on Independence Boulevard, Charles Lamar Kirkpatrick, 22, was shot to death in Banana's parking lot on Independence last September. Eugene Smith, 21, was shot to death outside Martino's Restaurant on North Davidson Street in July 1999. A month later, Tracy Hopper, 20, was shot in the back on Club F/X's dance floor.
Champ's and Banana's are closed, but wannabe thugs have already moved on. Club F/X is now called Blackout and a security guard was shot in the Sugar Creek Road club's parking lot last month.
The madness needs to stop. Nightclubs aren't substitutes for schoolyard fights. Until the knuckleheads grow up, it's up to other club-goers and club owners to set them straight.
Levins offers the following suggestions for club owners: Hire doormen who screen patrons and discreetly banish unwanted guests; and hire security personnel who treat patrons respectfully, quietly diffuse conflicts and patrol the parking lot, which is where most problems occur.
It's easy to blame the clubs, but clubbers also need to step up.
Tell security if you see someone with a gun inside or outside the club or if you see tempers flaring. If security seems indifferent, call the cops. If all else fails, stop patronizing clubs that attract violence.
Unfortunately, some people like violent clubs because fights are exciting and make good gossip.
I understand that attitude.
At the University of Alabama, I partied at the CC, a cranking juke joint in Tuscaloosa. On my first visit, a guy marched into the club, waving a gun and looking for a fraternity boy he claimed slept with his girlfriend.
Dancers scrambled out the emergency exits. I dived behind a table. Adrenaline raced through me as security wrestled the gunman outside before anyone got hurt.
Right then, I knew life at UA was going to be fun.
It took a shooting for me to learn that clubs are for partying, not dodging bullets. I was at a D.C.-area go-go party when fists started flying. Someone yelled, "Gun!" I crouched behind the bar as mayhem erupted. When it was over sirens and a girl screaming her brother had been shot filled the room. I haven't been to a D.C. go-go since.
I like go-go music, but I love life.
Tonya Jameson is The Observer's pop music critic. Contact her at P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, N.C. 28230-0308, or at email@example.com.
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